Audio Research PH 7 or PH 6


I am currently selecting a Phono Pre.

Which would you choose?

A new Audio Research PH 6 or a 4 year old Audio Research PH 7 in mint condition with new tubes.

Please advise.

Thank You for the response
If I had to make a choice I would prefer the PH 7 , it has a better powersupply and the 4 output capacitors are better quality ,but be sure the PH 7 has the powersupply update.
Let us know your choise and why
regards from the Netherlands
Pkelly ... I used to own the ARC PH-7. Thinking I'd be stepping up to a "baby Ref Phono 2 (not SE)," I bought a "refurbed-demo" PH-8 directly from ARC.

Frankly, I couldn't tell the difference between the PH-7 and the PH-8. When I called ARC to understand why the PH-8 wasn't in a "different league" than the PH-7, the former being a "baby Ref Phono 2," ARC explained in "audiophile-babble" just how improved the PH-8 was over the PH-7. Ok ... I'm a believer if ARC says so, but just between you and me, I ain't drinking the Kool-Aid.

So look, I've never listened to the PH-6, so take this with a grain of salt. IMHO, if you can pick up a pre-owned PH-7 in mint condition for $3500 or even less, I don't think you would be making a bad deal.

Btw, the PH-7 uses 6922 tubes, which are really inexpensive. So, retubing won't be a big hassle.

Just my opinion. BIF

Caveat: I read or heard somewhere a while ago that the PH-8 sonically nipped at the heels of the Ref Phono 2 (not SE). Not ever having heard the Ref Phono 2, I can't personally vouch for that view.
The Ref Phono 2 is a genuine advance over the PH7 - here's a review that compares them. And the SE version goes further still.

Be that as it may, the PH-7 is a great phono stage - I'd choose it over the PH-6. And fwiw, NOS 6DJ8-family tubes can make a real nice upgrade vs. stock in the PH-7.
Jtimothya, I think we're probably on the same page about the PH-7, even as it compared to the Ref Phono 2 (not SE). Here's an excerpt from TAB review you kindly cited:

"Comparing the PH7 with the Reference Phono 2 confirmed what an excellent value the PH7 is, while acknowledging that, at twice its price, the Reference Phono 2 had the sonic chops to warrant it as no poster child for the high-end’s law of diminishing returns. I heard no order-of-magnitude difference for any single sonic attribute, yet in sum the Reference Phono 2 was clearly the more refined product on every level."

My read is that the reviewer clearly tipped his hat for the PH-7, while acknowledging the improvements in overall refinement of the Ref Phono 2. What's really nice about the Ref Phono is that it can match up with very low output MC cartridges and has flexibility that the PH-7/8 just doesn't have.

As I said above, and not to quibble here, wherever the PH-7 holds as compared to the Ref Phono 2, IMO, the PH-8 is not much better. Does the PH-8 really nip at the Ref Phono 2's sonic heels?? Not sure.

But the PH-7 is no schlepper, not by any measure. If I had it to do over again, I'm not sure I would have dropped the cash for the PH-8, but that's me. Btw, I've recently seen a Ref Phono 2 for sale at a very attractive price. If I kept my cash dry, I might have jumped from the PH-7 to the Ref Phono 2. Maybe another day -- not today.
Bifwynne - Yes I think we agree about the PH7. And yes flexible gain (and equalization curves) are nice additions in the RP2. I see you have a Ref 5SE, so you know what the Ref Phono 2SE sounds like!
Thanks Jtimothya. Well, can't exactly say I know what the RF 2 (SE) sounds like because I've never done a serious listen to the RF 2 (SE or non-SE versions). Having said that, I do know something about the Ref 3, Ref 5 and Ref 5 SE linestages, having owned all three at one time or another.

Frankly, I wasn't bowed-over when I switched out the Ref 3 for the Ref 5. However, I think the SE version of the Ref 5 was an improvement. I surmise the same would be the case between the Ref Phone 2 and the upgraded SE version.

The SE versions of the Ref 5 and Ref Phono 2 incorporate improved Teflon coupling caps, a doubling of the power supply and several other circuit and component changes. IMO, the Ref 5 SE is a better sounding pre as compared to the non-SE version. As stated, I suspect the RF 2 SE shares the same sonic improvements as its sibling.

Based on experiences with various ARC components, if I had to make a knee-jerk guess about the PH-6 and PH-7, I would take shot at the PH-7. IMO, it's a champ.
Thanks for all of the response.

It looks like I will be going with The PH 7.
Is there a reason why the Herron VTPH-2 isn't under consideration?
The dealer has a used PH 7 that he is giving me a good price on.
Pkelly ...just curious about the rest of your system. What are you using for a linestage/amp/receiver and speakers? If you're using ARC gear downstream, the PH-7 is a no-brainer.
For a line stage I am using a Conrad Johnson ET3 SE.

Speakers are Sonus Faber Elipsa SE.

Amps are Cary 500 MB Mono Blocks.

Thanks for the advise.